LAHORE - A severe fuel shortage was witnessed at the city’s filling stations on Friday after rumours spread that the government was planning to close petrol stations ahead of PTI and PAT protests, respectively on August 14 and August 10.
The situation is reportedly not different in other big cities of Punjab where amid the shortage of petrol, vehicles and motorbikes are being impounded by the police. The government started impounding vehicles on Thursday. Hundreds of small vans and motorcycles were also taken into custody by the Lahore police.
Long queues of motorists were seen at different fuel outlets where the fuel was available while around 60 percent of them were closed. Pakistan Petroleum Dealers’ Association Secretary Information Khawaja Atif feared the shortage might become the worst in the coming days. He told The Nation that petroleum companies had reduced 50 percent fuel supply to the provincial metropolis.
“More than 350 filling stations of the city need 2.5 million litters per day fuel to meet the demand of vehicles and we are receiving less than 1.1 million litters these days,” said Khawaja Atif. He said the association contacted the petroleum secretary regarding the problem, but could not get positive response.
Khawaja was of the view that the situation would remain the same till August 14.
A motorcyclist, Intikhab, said only franchises of PSO were supplying fuel while other outlets were closed. Around 150 motorbikes and 50 cars were seen at a filling station near Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Only one petrol station each was supply fuel to motorists at Ferozpur Road and Jail Road. The worst panic would spread among the masses if the supply was not restored to filling stations on Saturday, said a car owner, Shoaib Saleem.
A transporter said the government’s proposed plan to close fuel stations on August 14 would affect motorcyclists and car owners but not large buses as they had sufficient storage capacity to travel a distance of around 380km between Lahore and the twin cities. He, however, added that if the shortage continued, transport could not move.
Meanwhile, the police started impounding mini-transport and motorbikes at a large scale in Lahore and other Punjab cities. Around 80 mini vans were impounded at Thoker Bypass by the police on Thursday and the exercise continued on Friday. No van was available from Bhati Chowk entrance point to Thoker Niaz Bag and a severe shortage of vans was witnessed at Multan Road from Thoker Niaz Beg to Azadi Chowk.
Lahore is already facing a severe shortage of public transport to meet the demand of millions of commuters and if the petrol shortage along with scarcity of public transport continued in the coming days, the worst situation would be witnessed.
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the government has decided to seal all bus stands in Punjab in the coming days. A red alert has been issued to all railways stations, directing Pakistan Railways police to remain vigilant to deal with any untoward incident.